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North Carolina police unfairly targeted groups at checkpoints

When police use selective targeting of certain drivers during a traffic stop, they can be violating a person's constitutional freedoms. Sometimes police are so focused on making arrests that they do so without probable cause, or they try to get away with racial profiling.

It's important for North Carolina drivers to remember, however, that just because a police stops you for a traffic violation does not mean that you automatically deserve to get a ticket or arrested.

The police department in one North Carolina county has come under fire recently for allegedly targeting certain drivers and ticketing them at higher rates than other motorists. After a two-year investigation into the department, the Justice Department confirmed this allegation by saying that Latino motorists in Alamance County are the subjects of racial profiling.

According to reports, members of the police force used derogatory language around Latino drivers, called them names and ticketed them at a much higher rate than non-Spanish-speaking drivers.

In fact, police stopped Latino drivers for traffic violations nearly 10 times more often than other drivers. During the course of a traffic stop, non-Latino motorists were commonly let off with a warning while Latino drivers were arrested and jailed for the same offense. Once arrested, these drivers also faced discrimination when police then targeted them for immigration status checks.

The harassment, discrimination and unfair pattern of arrest that this population of drivers has faced is not only unfortunate, it is unlawful. Police cannot stop a driver simply for being a certain race, ethnicity or age. Further, they cannot discriminate against motorists at a checkpoint that has been setup solely to target certain communities.

Drivers should not have to face discrimination and harassment from the police during a traffic stop. Those who believe they have been unfairly stopped, ticketed or arrested have the right to defend themselves against unlawful practices and behaviors.

Source: CNN, "Feds accuse North Carolina sheriff's office of racial profiling," Gustavo Valdes and Thom Patterson, "Sept. 20, 2012

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